Wellington Debaters Get Ready To Head To National Championship Tournaments

Seven high school debate students will represent Wellington High School at two national championship tournaments this summer.

Competing at the 2015 National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) National Speech and Debate Championship Tournament in Dallas, Texas, from June 14-20, are five students: seniors Greg Foster, Michael Leatherman and Kwadjo Walker; and sophomores Caramen McDaniel and Connor Yeackley.

Walker will be the third-ever Wolverine to be part of the NSDA National Senate, a mock student congress where students debate and cross-examine each other over proposed federal legislation. Foster-Leatherman and McDaniel-Yeackley will compete in Public Forum Debate, a two-on-two current events debate format.

“This ties the record for the most Wellington students to compete at the NSDA national championship,” said Wellington debate coach Paul L. Gaba, who has coached the team since 2002. “This is the fifth straight year that Wellington has attended the NSDA championships as well, so we are definitely continuing to represent Wellington High School and the community at a high level.”

Walker, who was recognized as the Florida Oceanfront NSDA District’s Graduating Senior of the Year, is also in the running for National Student of the Year, a debater who best embodies the traits of the NSDA’s Code of Honor: humility, integrity, leadership, respect and service.

Wellington qualified four students to compete at the 2015 National Catholic Forensic League’s Grand Nationals championship, taking place on the campus of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale May 23-24: Foster and Leatherman in Public Forum Debate; junior Victor Sanchez in Congressional Debate; and junior Savannah Race in Dramatic Performance.

With the double national qualification, Leatherman will have competed at six national championship tournaments during his four-year debate career, a school record. Both he and Foster will eclipse 2,000 NSDA Honor Points by the time their tenure with Wellington Debate concludes, the top two in program history. “We’ve had a strong year,” Gaba said. “Greg and Mike won the UPenn Liberty Bell Classic round robin tournament, placed third at our state championship, and were consistently in ‘break’ rounds on the national circuit. Kwadjo advanced to the finals at the Sunvitational Tournament at the University School in Fort Lauderdale. Victor was 11th in the state in Congress.”

The two national championship tournaments are estimated to cost $5,000, with the week in Dallas comprising most of the total. Wellington Debate is seeking financial assistance from the public sector. Donations can be made online at www.gofundme.com/reddawndebaters, or by sending a check payable to Wellington Debate, 2101 Greenview Shores Blvd., Room 4-104, Wellington FL 33414. Award packages range anywhere from shout-outs on Wellington Debate’s social media networks to your name being included on a classroom plaque to renaming the debate room in your honor.

For more information, contact Gaba at paul.gaba@palmbeachschools.org or (561) 795-4911.

ABOVE: Connor Yeackley, Michael Leatherman, Wellington debate coach Paul L. Gaba, Caramen McDaniel, Greg Foster and Kwadjo Walker.